Road to Hunter Biden's Burisma riches was paved in Moscow with effort to court Russian oligarchs

Democrats' effort to revive Russia collusion claims against Trump an attempt to blunt impeachment runs into and inconvenient truth: Hunter Biden and partners targeted Vladimir Putin's oligarchs for big bucks.
A security officer patrols in front of the Kremlin in Moscow on February 24, 2024. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The effort to revive Russian collusion claims in Joe Biden's impeachment probe is running into an inconvenient truth for Democrats: Hunter Biden and his business partners waged a concerted campaign to squeeze oligarchs in Vladimir Putin's country for investments, an effort that ultimately paved the way for the first son to score a big payday from Burisma Holdings in neighboring Ukraine.

Hunter Biden and his partners' pursuit of Russian riches began as early as 2010 with payments from a Moscow-based machinery firm and its "patriarch," and they intensified a few years later at a time when Joe Biden's son was actually still serving as a U.S. Navy officer. That timeline is confirmed by bank records, contemporaneous emails and congressional testimony that chronicle a far larger effort by Biden, Inc. to target Moscow than has previously been acknowledged. 

Along the way, Hunter Biden and his partners like Devon Archer discussed plans to open up a Moscow office for their Rosemont firm, create a U.S-Russia business coalition and pursue a real estate venture with one oligarch that could have topped out at $1 billion, the evidence shows.

“Devon can send wiring instructions,” Hunter Biden emailed one partner in 2010. The wire was for a $25,000 engagement fee from Moscow to be paid by a Russian machinery firm, the emails show. 

Eventually, their grand Russian ambitions came crashing down in spring 2014 when Putin's invasion of the Crimean region of Ukraine drove a wedge between Russia and the West, the records show.

But by that time, the meetings that Biden and his partners had scored across eastern Europe had opened a door to Mykola Zlochevsky, the Ukrainian oligarch who would invite Hunter Biden and Archer onto the board of Burisma, an energy firm that had been deemed corrupt by the Obama-Biden State and Justice Departments.

In fact, Archer told Congress recently, the very day Putin invaded Ukraine in March 2014 was the day he met their first Burisma executive in Moscow.

"So that started this entire process. He [the Burisma official] was in Moscow. We were like, okay, well, now we got to get back on the fundraising trip. And I met with him,” Archer told the impeachment inquiry last year during a transcribed interview.

In essence, Burisma became the multimillion dollar concession prize for what started as a Russian golden dream.

Democrats trying to claim the allegations against the Bidens were contrived by Russia will have to face the harsh reality of Hunter Biden's own courting of Russian money contained in hundreds of pages of bank records, emails and sworn testimony transcripts.

Abbe Lowell, the lawyer for Hunter Biden, did not respond to an email seeking comment from Just the News.

Likewise, Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., one of the leading opponents of the impeachment inquiry who has insisted that House Republicans peddled Russian disinformation, did not respond to a request for comment about Hunter Biden's efforts to secure pay days from Russian oligarchs and businesses. 

After the special counsel leading the tax cases against Hunter Biden charged an FBI informant earlier this month with lying to the FBI when he said both Hunter Biden and his father were bribed by Ukrainian energy company officials, Democrats quickly claimed the impeachment inquiry had been entirely discredited. Prosecutors said in a recent court file they believe the informant met with “Russian intelligence agents” before providing his information to the FBI, giving Democrats fresh ammunition to cry "Russian meddling" in the U.S. elections.

“The impeachment investigation essentially ended,” declared Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee.

But Republicans and their key impeachment witnesses are poised in the next few weeks to unleash their own narrative of how Hunter Biden and his team squeezed Russia for money and how the road to Burisma was literally paved through Moscow.

That new timeline emerges from Archer’s and other partners' testimony and emails obtained from the infamous laptop that Hunter Biden left behind at a Delaware repair shop that later was seized by the FBI.

The evidence shows that Hunter Biden and his company Rosemont Seneca Partners were on the verge of a significant expansion in Russia in 2014 after years of courtship. The foray into the Russian market overlapped with the younger Biden’s stint as a Naval Reserve officer from May 2013 to October 2014, when he was discharged for testing positive for cocaine. It also came as the Obama-Biden administration was actively pursuing a “reset” in its relationship with the Russian Federation.

One of the first instances of Russian business recorded on Hunter Biden’s laptop is a late 2010 email thread between Archer, Biden, and other partners about a “Moscow agreement” that appears to have resulted in a wire transfer to the Rosemont firm.

“Hunt, I am trying to get the Moscow agreement executed by the end of this week. In an effort to be proactive I think we should send bank wiring instructions so that we are not waiting on a check from Moscow,” an associate wrote Biden on Dec. 15, 2010.

“Devon can send wiring instructions,” Biden responded.

On the same day, a Rosemont employee forwarded the wiring instructions for Rosemont Seneca Partners to the Russians and copied both Biden and Archer.

“Igor and Roman, Thank you for your efforts on the Rosemont Seneca/Rosenergomash revised agreement. Please forward the wiring instructions (below) to Rosenergomash regarding the $25K engagement fee. We look forward to completing the task,” the same associate wrote. According to a Russian news website, Rosenergomash appears to be a power machine company that had production plants in Ukraine with headquarters in Moscow.

By 2012, Rosemont’s business prospects in Russia looked to be on the rise. In April 2012, Biden and Archer planned a trip to California in order to attend the birthday celebration of Armenian businessman Ara Abramyan, who lived in Russia and serves as the President of the Union of Armenians in Russia. Abramyan once received a personalized birthday message from then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in 2012.

“H I just received email back from Ara. The birthday dinner Sunday starts at 7pm and is at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Any chance you can get there a little earlier Sunday?” Archer asked Biden.

“I haven't done anything yet but I think I am going to make arrangements tomorrow, even if its for 24 hours, and try and get next trip to Moscow scheduled and advance the ball whatever initiative Ara wants to tackle first,” indicating plans to travel back to Moscow.

A few months later, Archer emailed Hunter Biden laying out the scope of Rosemont’s foray into Russia and the former Soviet Union, specifically their real estate markets. Both Kenes Rakishev—a Kazakhstani oligarch who surfaced in the House impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden for providing money that helped Hunter Biden buy a Porsche and meeting Joe Biden at least once—and Ara Abramyan featured prominently in the plans.

The partners had established an entity called the Rosemont Real Estate Acquisition Fund One, according to Archer’s testimony to the impeachment inquiry. In the emails, this fund is abbreviated as RREAF, which Archer confirmed. Archer and Biden would later meet Burisma’s senior executives after seeking their investments for this fund.

The email shows Archer and Biden planned to work with Abramyan to further RREAF “fund raising” and “capitalization” as well as developing a “RREAF Diversified deal.” The pair also planned to form an action plan for a “US — Russia Business Council Concept” and apparently some investment in something called the “Cantor Russia Casino project.” The plans also listed a “Rosemont Moscow office,” signaling Rosemont’s full commitment to the Russian market.

“Let’s continue the discussion,” Archer concluded the email.

Later that year, in September 2012, Archer had a meeting with one of the wealthiest businessmen in Russia, the banker Mikail Shishkanov, according to an email. Archer forwarded a biography to Hunter Biden, which described Shishkanov as the “President and CEO of B&N Bank.” He was a member of the board of the Russian Bankers’ Association and the Moscow Banking Union.

“This is my meeting tomorrow,” Archer told Biden. The subject of the email indicates a dinner meeting on Sept. 17, 2012.

Shishkanov has another connection to Archer and Biden’s business efforts in Russia. In 2011, he acquired a 95% stake in Inteko, a construction company formerly owned by Yelena Baturina—the Russian oligarch who in 2014 would invest $3.5 million with Biden and Archer’s company for a real estate deal in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Just weeks later, Baturina would attend a dinner in Washington, D.C. with then-Vice President Joe Biden, Archer confirmed in his testimony.

Shishkanov’s banking empire would collapse in 2023 when he was declared bankrupt by the Arbitration Court of the Moscow Region. The debtors obligations stood at 853 billion rubles ($9,322,403,733, USD) which was 12 times higher than the valuation of his assets. He is no longer one of the richest businessmen in Russia.

The plans for a Rosemont real estate empire ultimately fell through after Russia invaded Ukraine in the spring of 2014, erasing the era of good feelings between the U.S. and Russia brought about by Obama’s “Russian Reset” policy and which saw attempts to bolster the business relationship between the two countries.

According to Archer’s testimony, he and Biden scrambled to recover their business and looked for investors based outside Russia. This is how Archer came into contact with Zlochevsky, the Burisma co-founder who Rosemont had previously approached for real estate investments.

The Burisma executives “were on kind of a target list of potential investors in Rosemont Real Estate Acquisition Fund One,” Archer told congressional investigators. He said they were first introduced sometime between 2010 and 2014 by a consulting firm called TriGlobal Strategic Ventures, a firm which has previously come under scrutiny because of its close ties to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“TriGlobal did the kind of pitch kind of on behalf of Rosemont Realty to them. And I don't think they were very interested. But that was kind of the first that I heard of Burisma, Zlochevsky, the individual, and that he would be a potential investor,” Archer testified.

Then, in the early 2014, Archer described how he was reintroduced to the Burisma executive while he was coincidentally visiting Moscow on the same day that Russia invaded Ukraine.

"And then I then -- I was reintroduced -- I mean, you can't make this stuff up -- but I was -- I was -- we were doing a large deal with an Eastern European bank to basically invest in and be like an anchor investor on the debt side for Rosemont Realty for Rosemont Real Estate Acquisition Fund Two,” Archer said. “And that meeting happened to be on March -- it was like -- it was March 4th, 2014, which was in Moscow, which was also the day that Putin invaded Crimea. So that deal fell through, as you can imagine.”

"So that started this entire process. He was in -- he was in Moscow. We were like, okay, well, now we got to get back on the fundraising trip. And I met with him,” he said.

This meeting sparked the series of events that led to both Archer and Biden’s appointments to the board of the Ukrainian energy company, which has been widely scrutinized in the House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into Biden’s father.

The day after Archer’s meeting with Zlochevsky, TriGlobal contacted Archer and said that Burisma was not interested in investing in real estate amid the geopolitical tensions, but that its newest board member, the former President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski, was interested in meeting with him.

“So I was like, okay, this is an, you know, an interesting honor, right? And I basically -- so I literally within days, I flew to Warsaw for the day,” Archer told congressional investigators.

“He was like, would you be interested in joining the board? And so that's really how -- that's how the Burisma relationship started,” he added, confirming the meeting occurred in the first week of March 2014.

Later that month, emails show Archer attempted to organize a meeting between Hunter Biden and the Burisma officials.

“Katie, What are Hunter's exact travel dates for Europe first week of April? I am coordinating some additional meetings on the tail end of the trip and want to determine optimal location and timing for those,” Archer asked a Rosemont assistant.

“Hi. It's DC to NY to Milan then Milan to NY to DC. No other interEurope travel scheduled. Staying in Lake Como which is about 45 miles from the airport I think,” she replied.

“Nice. Will coordinate. Thank you. Might be very Bond / Borne to get the gharchs up at the Lake for a meeting,” Archer said, abbreviating the term oligarchs, a likely reference to the Burisma executives.

Emails show that within days of the Lake Como board meeting, the partners were discussing Burisma’s offer to appoint Hunter Biden to the board alongside Archer.

“I am strongly leaning towards agreeing to board position. Let's decide this and move on it by Monday,” Biden wrote Archer.

“Agreed we should go / no go by Monday AM EST. Spent 60 minutes on the phone with Vadim today. They are in complete agreement in regards to the discrete nature of your Board role and they actually described the same before I repeated it,” Archer responded.

“People will discover this though from corporate filings or one way or another so we have to be ready for questions,” he added, in warning. “My elephant hunt thoughts are that we have a chance to get in on the ground floor of the Gazprom of the U,” Archer said, revealing the ambitions of the Burisma leadership to expand their company in the image of the largest Russian state-owned energy corporation.

“If it doesn't result in trophy bull at minimum we're being compensated for the safari,” he added.

News of Hunter Biden’s appointment reached the U.S. media shortly after. An article appeared in the Washington Post titled “Hunter Biden’s new job at a Ukrainian gas company is a problem for U.S. soft power,” which frustrated team Biden.

“I think this kind of ridiculous speculation will hopefully fizzle out today,” a media consultant wrote to Biden.

“So you think it makes sense for me to write some sort of op/ed explaining my role as an independent director with no equity interest in the company. The objective would be to clarify that I don't 'work' for Burisma and that I don't stand to gain anything as I am not an equity shareholder in the company,” Hunter Biden wrote.

“My instinct is always to do less and let the issue die a natural death, but at the same time I hate letting untruths stand,” he concluded.

The decision to join the board of the corrupt Ukrainian company would divide Rosemont Seneca Partners, which Hunter Biden had established in with Devon Archer and Christopher Heinz—the stepson of John Kerry.

According to statements Heinz’s spokesman gave to The Washington Post, Heinz was specifically concerned about corruption in Ukraine, the geopolitical risk stemming from Russia’s invasion, and concerns about the appearance of the son of the vice president sitting on the board.

Heinz ultimately left the firm later that year because of his alleged concerns after Archer and Biden moved forward with their roles at Burisma.